Tech & Science How a London Museum Is Preserving a Chunk of the 143-Ton Whitechapel Fatberg

23:33  08 february  2018
23:33  08 february  2018 Source:   Mental Floss

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The 820-foot long slice of the Whitechapel fatberg will likely contain all of the above when it goes on display early next year, and the gross fascination that the people of London have with it is expected to bring hundreds of visitors to the museum .

12, 2017, a view of part of a fatberg inside a sewer in Whitechapel , London . LONDON (AP) - London 's monster fatberg may be destined for a museum . The Museum of London says it is trying to acquire a chunk of the 130 metric ton ( 143 U.S. ton ) mass of oil, fat

a piece of cake: How a London Museum Is Preserving a Chunk of the 143-Ton Whitechapel Fatberg© Daniel Leal-Olivas, AFP/Getty Images How a London Museum Is Preserving a Chunk of the 143-Ton Whitechapel Fatberg When UK officials learned of the 143-ton Whitechapel fatberg mucking up London’s sewer system, their first concern was getting rid of it. Now, the curators at the Museum of London are figuring out how to best preserve a chunk of the monstrous trash mass so as many visitors as possible can see it.

As WIRED UK reports, the museum's exhibition, titled "Fatberg!", launches on Friday, February 9. It features a congealed mound of fat, hair, diapers, wet wipes, sanitary napkins, and condoms that was salvaged from the Whitechapel fatberg shortly after it was discovered beneath the streets of London in September 2017. According to the exhibition’s curator, Vyki Sparkes, no one has ever tried preserving a fatberg before.

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12, 2017, a view of a fatberg inside a sewer in Whitechapel , London . Eight workers are using high powered jet hoses to break up the blob before sucking it out into tankers for disposal at a recycling site. The Museum of London , meanwhile, says it is trying to acquire a chunk of the 143 U.S. ton mass.

12, 2017, a view of a fatberg inside a sewer in Whitechapel , London . Eight workers are using high powered jet hoses to break up the blob before sucking it out into tankers for disposal at a recycling site. The Museum of London , meanwhile, says it is trying to acquire a chunk of the 143 U.S. ton mass.

The garbage globs, which form from grease and oil poured down sink drains, attract debris ranging in size from candy wrappers to planks of wood. Just a small piece of one can provide a fascinating glimpse at the waste that ends up in city sewers, but displaying a fatberg for the public to view poses logistical challenges.

In this case, the fatberg piece was set out to dry for seven weeks before it was transported to the Museum of London. The resulting item has the consistency of "parmesan crossed with moon rock," according to CBC News, and is roughly the size of a shoebox. Outside of the moist environment of London’s underbelly, the solid chunk may continue to dry out and crumble into pieces. Mold growth and sewer fly infestations are also potential issues as long as it's left out in the open.

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The 820-foot long slice of the Whitechapel fatberg will likely contain all of the above when it goes on display early next year, and the gross fascination that the people of London have with it is expected to bring hundreds of visitors to the museum .

12, 2017, a view of part of a fatberg inside a sewer in Whitechapel , London . LONDON (AP) - London 's monster fatberg may be destined for a museum . The Museum of London says it is trying to acquire a chunk of the 130 metric ton ( 143 U.S. ton ) mass of oil, fat

The museum curators initially considered pickling the fatberg in formaldehyde to solve the aging problem. This idea was ultimately nixed as the liquid would have likely dissolved the whole lump into loose sludge. Freezing was another possibility, but the museum was unable to get a hold of the specialist freezers necessary for that to happen in time.

In the end, the curators decided to display it as-is within three layers of boxes. The clear cases are meant to spare guests from the noxious odor that Sparkes described to CBC News as a weeks-old diaper smell that’s simmered into something more like a “damp Victorian basement.” The exhibition closes July 1, at which point the museum must decide if the fatberg, if it remains intact, should become a permanent part of their collection. And if the mass doesn’t end up surviving the five-month show, obtaining another one to sample shouldn’t be too difficult.

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LONDON (AP) — London 's monster fatberg may be destined for a museum . The Museum of London says it is trying to acquire a chunk of the 130 metric ton ( 143 U.S. ton ) m. 12, 2017, a view of a fatberg inside a sewer in Whitechapel , London .

12, 2017, a view of part of a fatberg inside a sewer in Whitechapel , London . LONDON (AP) - London 's monster fatberg may be destined for a museum . The Museum of London says it is trying to acquire a chunk of the 130 metric ton ( 143 U.S. ton ) mass of oil, fat

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